Never enough or too much? Ending the cycle of self-defeat
January 31, 2018
“You used to be much more… muchier. You’ve lost your muchness” – Alice in Wonderland (2010 film).
I’ve always loved Alice in Wonderland.
I’ve also always hated opening a piece of writing with a quote yet here we are.
Intensives. Empaths. Extroverts. Introverts. Feelers. While it varies from person to person, most of us can think of a term or a type of person that we associate with being “too much.” For a lot of us, it’s ourselves. What’s fascinating is that "us" is comprised of some vastly different personalities.
Just this week I had coffee with a friend who identifies as a “classic introvert” in all situations. She said she’s often told she’s too much. My sister, whose energy can shift from loud and extroverted to soft and introspective, has a tattoo of the words “too much” in a heart on her leg because she, too, is just too much. As for me? Well somewhere in my parent’s basement there sits a file cabinet filled with elementary school report cards noting, with concern, a talkative and over-spirited kid; I'm apt to say one with too much energy.
Somehow in a world of never enough, we’re all just too much.
You know when you're going through a breakup and, despite wanting to think about anything but the breakup, it's all you can talk about? I've been like that with my breakup from scarcity thinking. It's like a bad Bumble fling I can’t stop talking about. Sometimes I catch myself reaching for the phone to dial scarcity mindset’s number after a hard day, in search of the comfort of that familiar, woe-is-me attitude. Other days, when I’m in the throws of my new abundance-rich thoughts, I laugh at the old me. What did I ever see in scarcity?, I'll scoff.
Scarcity thinking is basically the pervasive belief that there will never be enough. Scarcity mindset is waking up to the thought that there are just not enough hours in the day for your to-do list. Scarcity mindset is staring at your dreams and thinking: "maybe if I wasn’t strapped with student debt or if my dad was a millionaire like that guy…"
For me, the scarcity mindset often manifested in the must-be-niceattitude. It was pretending to accept my scenario while brooding inside. It was believing that everyone had it easier, better, and more figured out. I knew I needed more but I never had enough of anything to get more. The only exception to that scarcity was myself. That didn't help much, though, because I'd let myself be convinced that I had too much of me.
I haven't done quantifiable research on the matter but life experience, a lot of reading, and strong perception skills tell me that I’m not the only one who lived, or lives, with an enigmatic combination of scarcity mindset and the Too-Muchness Dilemma*.
When in such a dire state of never enough, you would think any kind of abundance, especially an abundance of something as easy as being ourselves, would be celebrated. The trick is that these beliefs aren't as contradictory as they appear. They’re actually allies in disguise. The Too-Muchness Dilemma is rooted in scarcity mindset and vice versa. They feed off one another.
Being “too much” clearly depends on who you are. My friend is “too much” of an introvert. She is too much soft and too much thought. My sister is “too much” of a feeler. She is too much emotion and too much intensity. I am “too much” energy. I am too much connecting and too much sharing. Each one of us is abundant in ourselves and not enough of the others. To have too much of one thing is to have not enough of another… you see? If you think are too much of you, you're also saying that you are not enough of everyone else.
Too Muchness = Scarcity.
Living in scarcity takes up our brainpower. Researchers note that the mental bandwith spent focusing on deprivation takes away from people’s ability to focus on other aspects of their life**. It reinforces self-defeating actions. Focusing on what is missing from our lives or from who we are traps us in a cycle that only gets harder and harder to break because the more we focus on the negatives, the less cognitive ability we’re able to use elsewhere. The more we buy into the idea that we're too much, the further we fall into a state of not enough. And so the cycle continues... until we stop believing that Too Muchness is a dilemma.
In my quest for a term for what Too Muchness really is, I asked my boyfriend what he would call the opposite of a dilemma.
“That doesn’t exist,” he said. “It just is…”
“So what if I wanted to put a word to that?” I asked.
“Fine?” he said, “or content?”
That's exactly what Too Muchness should be. We can't stop being too much. Doing so just feeds into the cycle of depravity and makes us hate ourselves. We can, however, stop framing "too much" as a good or bad thing. Our Too Muchness isn't a dilemma. It just is. It's us. It's you. And since the rest of the world clearly has so much scarcity, I'd argue it needs all of the muchness it can muster. It needs you as you are, in full.
So stay muchier.
*Coining it! The Too Muchness Dilemma is now on my books-I-should-write list.
**The Psychology of Scarcity. Amy Novotney. American Psychological Association Vol. 45 No. 2.